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Title:Word searches in L1 and L2 Italian conversation: re-establishing intersubjectivity
Author(s):Chiarenza, Anna C.
Director of Research:Musumeci, Diane; Golato, Andrea
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Musumeci, Diane
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Golato, Andrea; Markee, Numa P.; Bowles, Melissa A.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Word searches
L1 & L2 Italian conversations
Conversation Analysis (CA)
Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
Abstract:This study analyzes how intersubjectivity is restored after a repair initiation in native and non-native speakers in Italian conversations. The main objective of the present study is to fill a gap in previous research analyzing a particular instance of repair, word search, which focuses on lexical items, both in native (NSs) and non-native speakers (NNSs). Word searches are incidental and are launched when speakers have problems in producing a lexical item during a spate of talk, either because they can’t recall a lexical or grammatical item or because they truly do not know it. At that point the action of the conversation is halted and it is resumed when the word search has been completed (or abandoned). This research aims to look at the strategies that are exploited during this particular action by using Conversation Analysis (CA) as the research methodology that has recently been employed in many Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research studies. The data consist of eleven hours and fifty minutes of non-elicited videotaped dinners in which 39 Italian native speakers and 8 American students of Italian interacted. The corpus yielded 105 word searches: 52 native speakers’ word search activities and 53 non-native speakers’ word search activities. Our data show that, unlike English-speaking participants, Italian participants offer potential candidate solutions to speakers even when there is no eye contact or appeal for help. Italians seem to privilege resolutions of the search carried out jointly and done as collaborative completions. When the other participant/s help the speaker resolve the search, the candidate solutions Italian participants offer, are not produced with the questioning intonations, which occur in English. Non-native Italian speakers carry out word searches in a systematic way. They initiate repairs with hesitation markers and disfluencies. The students’ use of resources to initiate repairs deals not only with production problems in the talk, but also display and construct their identities as non-native speakers in the interaction. They assume a thinking face and make eye contact to appeal for help. When they offer a possible solution they produce it with questioning intonation, as they need to have it confirmed by the native speaker, who assumes the role of expert. During interactions the ability to use the language emerges and is shaped by the local context. Finally, gestures are found to be salient interactional resources not only at the onset of the search, but also as tools to facilitate its resolution. Lexical searches are very important in L2 learning because they might provide a crucial moment in the learner’s acquisition (Hammarberg, 1998), the present study showed how the repetition of the searched-for word and its incorporation into the context to complete the action that was on hold resulted in language learning at least at the local level, at that particular moment of the interaction.
Issue Date:2010-08-31
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Anna Chiarenza
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-08-31
Date Deposited:2010-08

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